eCommerce Growth in 2022
Quick Summary What eCommerce trends do we expect in 2022? Experts predict a rise in eCommerce sales, with brands and businesses finding workarounds to mitigate supply chain issues caused by the pandemic.
Events of the past two years have accelerated the growth of electronic commerce. Economic instability, the surge of remote work, lockdowns and isolation, and contact-free deliveries have tremendously impacted how businesses conduct their operations. For this reason, many businesses have been forced to readjust their business models and embrace eCommerce.
The first eCommerce transaction was recorded over 40 years ago. Amazon and eBay were founded in 1994 and 1995, respectively, with Amazon selling its first book in 1995.
Fast-forward to 2022. Amazon is the largest eCommerce retailer, recording a revenue of US$ 120,968 million in 2020. Jd.com, Walmart.com, and Apple.com take spots in the top five online stores globally. But how did the eCommerce industry explode?
The short answer is technology. Changes in technology have significantly impacted eCommerce growth, translating to more online revenue. Technology has affected product development, marketing and selling techniques, and communication channels. And, of course, the internet is more widely available and faster. Today, we don't even need to leave the house to get snacks.
Computers and mobile phones have made this possible. Over 77% of Americans — 230 million consumers — own smartphones. Interestingly, 79% of smartphone users have used their phones for purchase over the last six months.
How Has eCommerce Shaped Out Over the Last Two Years?
COVID-19 completely transformed global and regional industries. The accelerated digital transformation has led to a surge in eCommerce, with more businesses and consumers buying products and services online.
A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) indicated that global retail trade rose from 14% in 2019 to 17% in 2020. Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD Isabelle Durant says that businesses and consumers have 'gone digital' to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
The United Nations reported that global eCommerce sales in 2019 jumped to $26.7 trillion, representing a 4% increase from the previous year. Some eCommerce firms that offer a wide array of goods and services like Shopify and Walmart experienced higher sales after the pandemic started, with the former recording a 95% increase in sales in 2020.
Notably, the effects of the pandemic weren't uniform across industries, sellers, and product categories. For example, there was a surge in demand for items like disposable gloves, medicines, groceries, and ICT equipment within the U.S. The same can't be said for bridal dresses, sports gear, suitcases, and hotel bookings.
In 2021, the demand for products and services in the U.S. remained steady, with Shopify stores reporting a 21% increase in their 2021 Black Friday sales, translating to nearly $2.9 billion in sales. The eCommerce platform reported that accessories, health and beauty, and home products were the top products with an average cart price of $101.20.
According to Adobe, consumers spent $541 billion online between January 2021 to August 2021. This figure was arrived at based on Adobe analytics data, analyzing over a trillion visits to retail sites within the U.S. and over 100 million stock-keeping units (SKUs). In the report, Adobe cited an increase in demand and supply chain bottlenecks as the main reasons for higher product prices.
What Does 2022 Hold for Merchants in the eCommerce Space?
Technology innovation, increased internet penetration, eCommerce automation, and easy scalability were major strides in the eCommerce industry in 2021. However, brands and businesses still faced a myriad of challenges, forcing them to come up with sustainable solutions.
Dealing With Supply-Chain Constraints
The global supply chain crisis is affecting every sector. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, record freight rates, congested ports, reduced flights, material scarcity, and out-of-place shipping containers have become the norm. Firms including Sony, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and even the shoe company Crocs have voiced concerns about their ability to meet consumer demand due to supply-chain issues.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quoted as saying that the first quarter entailed "some of the most difficult supply-chain challenges that we have ever experienced in the life of Tesla." Freight has become the most significant challenge for most industries, including those in the beauty and beverage sector, with ocean rates more than doubling.
It is estimated that up to $4 trillion in revenue may have been lost due to supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. In 2020, 64% of U.S. and European companies with revenues greater than $1 billion reported losses between 6% to 20% due to disruptive forces.
Cyberattacks, diverging regulations, and commodity pricing fluctuations directly impacted supply chains. Still, 38% of companies generating over $1 billion reported reputational damage, with 33% citing increased operational costs due to supply chain disruptions.
In 2022, there'll be a surge in shipping to mitigate supply chain issues. Merchants will also be forced to consider supply chain workarounds such as:
Building up inventory
Buying warehouses to deal with the shortage of storage spaces
Chartering vessels if a company is unable to secure ocean carriers
Partnering with eCommerce fulfillment operators and logistics experts
Diversifying supply base
Developing a supply chain emergency plan
Identifying backup suppliers
Considering Social Commerce
As smartphones become better, brands, businesses, and creators will have to embrace the convenience of selling their products and services on social media platforms. Today, over 85% of Americans own a smartphone, making it easy for consumers to find new brands.
Leveraging the power of social commerce can be an effective way to generate higher click-through rates, which means more sales. Instagram, which has an average of one billion active users every month, launched a ' shoppable post' feature, enabling brands to list product tags with posts and stickers within stories. YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Pinterest have also rolled out 'buy' buttons to boost social shopping.
The year 2022 will see more brands increasing their social media budgets to expand their reach. Paid advertising, engaging with influencers, and live stream shopping are all ways to get in on the projected $79.6 billion growth of social commerce in the U.S. by 2025.
Adopting Virtual Shopping Assistants
Brands and businesses are now taking advantage of AI and automation to gain a competitive edge. Online stores have begun to adopt AI-based virtual shopping assistants, like chatbots, for a simple and seamless customer experience.
According to a report by Heyday, a company that helps retailers humanize eCommerce through their conversational AI, customers use virtual assistants primarily for customer support (56%) rather than sales or transactional intents (44%). Last year, customers mainly interacted with virtual assistants for informational queries, like order tracking, returns and refund policies, and store hours and location. Order tracking was the most frequently detected intent by shoppers interacting with AI chatbots.
A survey by Arise revealed that over 80% of customers that reach out for support expect a response within 24 hours. 37% expect a response within the hour while 16% expect an immediate response. Toister data indicates that 11% of customers expect email responses within 15 minutes, representing world-class customer service.
Virtual shopping assistants are beneficial to both consumers and retailers. Retail businesses can collect data regarding user behavior, improve consumer relationships, facilitate cart recovery, and increase online revenue. Scaling your eCommerce business becomes easier when virtual shopping assistants help you meet consumer expectations. At the same time, customers enjoy interacting with digital shopping assistants since they offer:
Personalization that helps with product recommendations
Prioritizing Reputation Over User Reviews for DTC Brands
Since the emergence of the pandemic, some brands have shifted their focus to direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling strategies. The DTC model allows online stores to control the branding experience by overseeing their products and packaging. It also saves costs, improves customer experience, and builds better customer relations, translating to higher customer lifetime value.
Over 95% of users use on-site data like reviews to inform their shopping decisions while on standard eCommerce websites.
However, this isn't the case for DTC brands. Users are skeptical, and reasonably so, about the data that DTC brands provide about their own products. Shoppers worry that on-site reviews are being manipulated or faked. Approximately 62% of DTC users claimed they'd conduct their own investigations and consult external reviews before buying products from unfamiliar brands.
DTC brands now have to focus on their reputation rather than reviews. They must present themselves as trustworthy and authentic. Strategies like influencer marketing, social media reviews, and search engine optimization can help DTC brands overcome the skepticism of on-site reviews.
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What Does the Future of Online Shopping Look Like?
Diverse Payment Methods
To gain a competitive edge, businesses and brands have to offer more payment options to website visitors. You don't want customers to abandon their cart because they can't pay the way they want to.
Subscriptions and Loyalty Programs
Tempting deals are appealing to online shoppers. If customers feel that your brand appreciates them, they are more likely to come back again. Expect more businesses to offer shoppers subscription services and loyalty programs.
The subscription business model will evolve from mainstream Software as a Service (SaaS) industries like Spotify and Netflix to industries such as fashion and beauty. With a recurring subscription fee, brands will send select products like cosmetics and grooming replenishments to customers every month.
Home Delivery To Continue
Today, most customers expect businesses to deliver products to their doorstep. In the coming years, home delivery will rapidly evolve. Drone adoption within the retail industry will surge to help with last-mile deliveries, with companies like Amazon, UPS, and Domino's already experimenting with drone delivery services.
According to Google, approximately 27% of the global population uses voice search on mobile devices. Voice-assistants like Siri and Alexa on smart devices like phones and speakers will give rise to voice-activated online browsing. It is estimated that revenue from voice eCommerce sales will reach $19.4 billion by 2023.
We expect more businesses and brands to start experimenting with voice technology, making their stores speech-query friendly to accommodate shoppers who prefer voice shopping.
Consumers are increasingly becoming more environmentally aware and supporting sustainable brands. Green consumerism will become more important, forcing many brands to transition from plastics to eco-friendly and biodegradable materials, especially when it comes to product packaging. Businesses will also go paperless, use renewable energy sources, and embrace recyclable products.
In 2019, Amazon made a climate pledge to attain net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, pledging to power all its operations using renewable energy by 2025. Visa, Alaska Airlines, AstraZeneca, and Zara also plan to go carbon-neutral by 2040, with Apple committing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
User data is critical to determine the behavior, preferences, and reactions of shoppers. Brands and businesses will use analytics to gain insights and personalize marketing campaigns. AI algorithms will be able to process data more intelligently and offer users relevant ads and product recommendations.
Video marketing is an effective method to market products, with nearly 66% of shoppers preferring videos rather than reading product descriptions. As more and more shoppers demand video content, branded social videos from brands, unboxing videos, tutorials, reviews, and explainers will play a significant role in marketing.
Over the past few years, retailers dealing with new products like Ikea and Zalando have begun listing using items on their websites. Even electronic companies like Best Buy and Apple have allowed users to get refurb deals on their stores. As more mainstream brands pick up on this trend, consumers may have a wider range of upcycled products to choose from.
How Can Leveraging Ecommerce Trends Transform Your Business?
Every customer wants value for the money they spend. For this reason, businesses should always find ways to make the shopping experience of customers more memorable. Looking at market research, trends, and forecasts can help with scaling your eCommerce business.
Ecommerce is here to stay. Adopting current trends and best practices, like using chatbots and selling through social media, will allow you to stay ahead of your competition. This, in the long run, enhances your digital presence, generates higher sales, creates a better customer experience, differentiates your online site, and leads to business growth.